It almost sounds like a '90s R&B song [in] the intro, and then it just hits with this energetic drive to it. It has a whole 'nother drive, almost like a poppy drive to it. But I felt like the melodic pocket needed to be a little bit more open because the beat was moving a lot, so I didn't want the melody to be too fast. I wanted it to be something you could still sing to and vibe to, so I was just going through melodies. I just sang, girl, I don't know where it comes from! I freestyle [the] majority of the songs that I write -- I'll just come up with the melody and sometimes I'll have the concept within whatever I just came up with. I'm not saying anything, I'm just [mumble-sings], you know what I mean? Just hearing what naturally feels good in that pocket.
Of course [the inspiration] would be a '90s male group, of course. It's New Kids on the Block, *NSYNC, Backstreet Boys. Because I know that they have these supergroups and they're still in that '90s vibe but then they have these pop elements to them as well. They also dance like Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC, and it's like they all had a baby, basically. That's what the vision normally is for EXO and groups like that.
Deez: “Bad Dream” was written during a song camp hosted by SM Entertainment. Normally in SM camps, producers bring their tracks, and the songwriters choose one of them to work on based on the discussion between the writers, and also with the A&Rs. When I’m in those song camps, I usually get involved in the track and vocal producing and toplining. For this song “Bad Dream,” I worked as a vocal producer and topliner. This was my first collaboration with the co-topliner “Blush” [Bianca.] She has [a] classical voice, but at the same time, it’s very trendy -- you don’t see that very often. Right after I listened to her voice, I could easily come up with melody of the song. She’s absolutely one of the best U.S. songwriters I’ve met. Blush and I worked on the track in very extemporary way, as we both like that type of work.
In song camps, I normally create one song per a day, but the chemistry with Blush made us to do two songs on that day, and “Bad Dream” was the first song of the day. It took 6-7 hours for the toplining and the vocal production. [It] was a very satisfying session. I normally do not follow any leads, but for this one, I was exactly targeting EXO, as Blush’s voice gave me the inspiration.
When we were going through Mike Daley’s tracks, it was hard for me and Blush to choose, as most of Mike’s tracks were used during the previous sessions. While we were struggling, Mike played a track that I heard while I was in L.A. last year. Mike let me listen to the track at that time, and I kept that one since I really liked it. I was thinking of TVXQ. Mike didn’t remember the fact that he gave it to me already, and played to us. Blush and I agreed with working on the track, and result was more than great.
Mike Daley: Usually when I go out [to Korea], I try to have a couple tracks ready from my camp just to be able to start the first couple of days off, and then start making new stuff when I'm out there. But that was a track I worked on with a producer I work with a lot, Mitchell Owens. So we started working on a couple of songs and if you hear two different beats -- it started off as a guitar-R&B vibe [track], and then I just started messing with some of the chords and different sounds and got a whole different vibe in the verses. [I] tried to make it sound a lot different than the intro, 'cause I know that's the stuff Deez likes writing to.
I think their sound, it can't be anything regular, down the middle. It's gotta be a little left of center, just something that's engaging, because their performances are so crazy. That's what I'm thinking about with the track, trying to make something that performance-wise will be cool.
Some of the new EDM pop elements, I got some inspiration from that. But then still, the real feel-good R&B, boy band vibe, which is what I came up in with The Underdogs -- that's always a part of what I'm doing.